Revenge is Sweet! The London Lions Cruise Past Caledonia to Clinch 2022-23 League Title.
Katsiaryna Snytsina and ‘Kiki’ Herbert Harrigan Score 18 Points Apiece to Help Lions Claim Vengeful 60-79 Victory!
The stage was set for London and Caledonia’s (near) end-of-season league title clash following the Gladiators’ 67-68 upset win in February and the Scottish outfit winning their games over the past weekend, stopping the Lions from retaining the regular season title.
With all the storylines and narratives adding fuel to what many claimed as the regular season's biggest game, the Lions stepped onto the Lagoon Centre’s court composed and ready.
Many teams may have buckled under the pressure of needing revenge for the shocking February upset and the possibility of winning the league title in the same game, but not the London Lions. Britain’s capital city heroes kept the Scottish powerhouse at bay for 40 minutes, conceding an average of 15 points across all four quarters, whilst London recorded an average of 19.75.
The Lions thumped Caledonia in the gut in the early going, racing out to a 2-13 lead before Gladiator skipper Erin Mcgarrachan led the Scots to a 9-4 run cutting the margin to just six points (11-17). Several missed opportunities resulted in only two buckets between both teams being scored in the last 3 minutes and 35 seconds, drawing the quarter to a 13-19 close in favour of the Lions.
London brought their poor run of form into the second period fuelling Caledonia’s 6-0 run to jump-start the period. This brace allowed the Gladiators to tie the game (19-19); London returned fire with a 5-0 charge, highlighted by Chantel Charles’ much-needed triple (19-24).
The Scottish outfit cut the English lead to one point twice towards the latter half of the period (23-24 and then 25-26) before Katsiaryna Snytsina drained two back-to-back triples and completed a four-point play (25-33). Mcgarrachan, who finished the game with 18 points, knocked down one of two free throw shots to close the quarter (26-33).
The third quarter saw the Lions push their advantage to double-digits on several occasions. Their most significant lead came at the 03:59 mark following a layup from the 2023 WBBL Trophy MVP ‘Kiki’ Herbert Harrigan.
Not wanting to allow the advantage to get any steeper, Mcgarrachan ignited a 6-0 run to cut the lead to six points. However, Winterburn and skipper Shanice Beckford-Norton dashed their hopes of a third-quarter comeback to stretch the lead out to 44-55 towards the end of in the period.
The WBBL’s top two titans traded buckets to open the four quarter forcing Caledonia head coach Miguel Ángel Ortega Marco into a timeout following two straight buckets from Shequila Joseph and Ty Battle (48-61). Soon after the Gladiators’ ATO failed to make an imprint on the score, the Lions went on an 11-2 run to widen the team gap to 24 points (50-74).
Great Britain national team vet Chantelle Handy returned fire, but the Lions’ kept their feet on the accelerator, extending their lead to 27 points (52-79) with less than three minutes left on the clock. Mcgarrachan hit back-to-back 3-pointers, followed by Abbie Wolf’s layup towards the end of the quarter, but it was too little too late as the London Lions clinched the 2022-23 league title.
Four of the Lions’ starting five finished the game with double digits to help London claim their historic away victory.
Katsiaryna Snytsina nailed three triples en route to 18 points, which she complimented with five rebounds, two assists and one block. ‘Kiki’ Herbert Harrigan also had a similar boxscore with 18 points, five rebounds, three assists and one block.
Holly Winterburn put up 14 points, four rebounds and three assists, whilst 2-way specialist Taylor Murray walked away with 11 points, two steals, six rebounds and five assists.